[-empyre-] Social Media Use across Campaigns for Social Justice

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Fri Dec 12 15:49:52 EST 2014

John, I am glad to read what you have written. I was feeling more and more
like a Luddite in my jaundiced view of social media, in my belief that the
power of this media is much more towards evil than good.

On Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 8:12 AM, John Cayley <john_cayley at brown.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> On December 10, 2014 at 11:37:36 AM, David Golumbia (dgolumbia at gmail.com)
> wrote:
> power does not know social justice, however we construe that term. it is
> just power.
> On December 10, 2014 at 11:37:36 AM, David Golumbia (dgolumbia at gmail.com)
> wrote:
> it is everywhere in the scholarship on social media in particular: "I'm
> going to look exclusively at the thing I consider good and how social media
> contributes to it, and put aside any consideration of the things I consider
> bad." That's not scholarship: it's advertising.
> Power does not know social justice and neither does algorithm or robot.
> Rather, now, the power of Big Software - more or less explicitly
> overdetermined by venal human desire - constructs systems of
> algorithmically driven robots in its service. The robots are reactive and
> generative in the sense that they react to symbolically structured cultural
> forms and then generate (more from less) cultural forms which are fed back
> to human subjects and also to other robots and systems.
> Big Software now builds these networked computational systems chiefly and
> massively to render commerce (not art or politics or culture or anything
> else except perhaps the flourishes of 'entertainment media') as
> frictionless as possible: by facilitating real tractions (between capital
> and its (co-)subjects) and by advertising hyper-effectively on behalf of
> capital. Big Software - McKenzie Wark's vectoralists - must make their
> income by charging capital for 'services.' But they have also discovered
> (and I will only briefly touch on this real, historical injustice) that
> they are easily able to steal Big Data from people everywhere merely as an
> unregulated function of the self-stated 'terms' of 'use' for these
> 'services'.
> Social Media is perhaps the most important manifestation of this pathology
> of sociopolitical economy.
> In so far as we may no longer be able to 'build our own' systems of social
> media, and in so far as the algorithms and robots of real existing social
> media are designed by and in the service of this pathology, I believe that
> there is an argument against Social Media as we know it. Social Media - in
> the form of robots and algorithms - will tend, inevitably, to generate more
> and more in the way of pathological cultural forms addressed to human
> subjects, regardless of those subjects intentions in terms of social
> justice or its opposite or anything else.
> And this is quite apart from the historical fact of Big Data theft and
> accumulation that is routinely and tacitly accepted as a function of the
> pathology - our contemporary pharmakon as Bernard Stiegler has it - with
> and within which we must try to live. The uses and values of all that
> 'data' (and it's not really data anyway, its only everything that our
> devices can so far collect) are all but entirely beyond democratic control,
> let alone beyond our control as individuals or progressive
> institutions/collectives.
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